MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesman, Atty. Barry Gutierrez, urged Friday the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to conduct the COVID-19 mass testing “as soon as possible” rather than on April 14.
This call came as the country posted another big increase in the number of people contracting the respiratory illness.
National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. announced Thursday that the government is eyeing to start the mass testing of persons suspected of having the coronavirus on April 14.
“We are glad that the IATF has announced that it will pursue testing, but we would still urge them to implement this as soon as possible and to ensure that an adequate number of tests, in the areas that are most vulnerable, will be made available,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
Gutierrez noted that Robredo has been pushing for “more testing, particularly at the community level” since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The most successful responses of other countries to COVID-19 included a strong testing component, and even the WHO (World Health Organization) has repeatedly recommended it,” Gutierrez stressed.
“And in our own context, widespread testing in our poor, heavily populated communities is an essential step to identifying the sick, giving them proper care, and protecting those who are not,” he added.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday clarified that the testing will only cover patients under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs) for COVID-19.
As of April 3, there are 3,018 people in the country infected with COVID-19. This total includes 136 fatalities and 52 recoveries.
“The OVP already contributed extraction kits, which are a component of testing kits, good for about 12,000 tests, to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine last March 19, and we stand ready to help in any way we can to support this crucial initiative if the national government,” Gutierrez said.
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